United States District Court, D. Maryland
K. Bredar United States District Judge
Steven Moseley, a resident of Houston, Texas, filed the
above-entitled complaint with a motion to proceed in forma
pauperis on January 13, 2017. Because he appears to be
indigent, Moseley's motion shall be granted. For the
reasons below, the complaint must be dismissed.
asserts he is entitled to mandamus relief because the
Honorable Jeffrey Geller of the Baltimore City Circuit Court
ignored Maryland procedural rules and violated his rights in
connection with a child support action prosecuted by Special
Counsel Martin McGuire, Esq. on behalf of Adrienne Winston,
the mother of Moseley's child. ECF 1. As relief, Moseley
seeks an emergency preliminary injunction against the
enforcement and collection of child support issued in
Adrienne Winston v. Steven Mosley, Case No.
24P12002814 (Cir. Ct. Balto. City). ECF 1 at p. 13.
filed his complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1), which
permits an indigent litigant to commence an action in this
court without prepaying the filing fee. To guard against
possible abuses of this privilege, the statute requires
dismissal of any claim that is frivolous or malicious, or
fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted. 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) and (ii). This court is
mindful, however, of its obligation to liberally construe
self-represented pleadings, such as Moseley's complaint.
See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). In
evaluating such a complaint, the factual allegations are
assumed to be true. Id. at 93 (citing Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56
(2007)). Nonetheless, liberal construction does not mean that
a district court can ignore a clear failure in the pleading
to allege facts which set forth a cognizable claim. See
Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387 (4th
Cir. 1990); see also Beaudett v. City of Hampton,
775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985) (stating a district court
may not “conjure up questions never squarely
presented.”). In making this determination, "[t]he
district court need not look beyond the complaint's
allegations . . . . It must hold the pro se complaint to less
stringent standards than pleadings drafted by attorneys and
must read the complaint liberally." White v.
White, 886 F.2d 721, 722-723 (4th Cir. 1989).
affording Moseley's claims the most liberal construction,
the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted. First, this court does not have original
subject-matter jurisdiction over matters concerning child
support. See Raftery v. Scott, 756 F.2d 335, 343
(4th Cir. 1985) (domestic relations exception to federal
courts' jurisdiction based on idea that state has a
stronger, more direct interest). Further, this court cannot
review a child support case even where the moving party
establishes diversity jurisdiction. See Wasserman v.
Wasserman, 671 F.2d 832 (4th Cir. 1982) (diversity
jurisdiction does not include power to grant divorces,
determine alimony or support obligations, or decide child
the relief sought in this case is in the nature of mandamus
relief against a Maryland state judge and prosecutor. This
court does not have jurisdiction over state employees in an
action for writ of mandamus. Gurley v. Superior Court of
Mecklenburg County, 411 F.2d 586, 587 (4th Cir. 1969),
see also 28 U.S.C. Â§1361 (establishing federal court
mandamus jurisdiction over officer or employees of the United
Moseley's primary allegation is that he was improperly
served in connection with the child support matter. He moved
in state court to dismiss the enforcement petition based on
improper service, and did not prevail. The matter was
concluded on November 29, 2014, and Moseley did not appeal.
That appellate review, however, is not now available in this
court. "Under the Rooker-Feldman [abstention]
doctrine, a 'party losing in state court is barred from
seeking what in substance would be appellate review of the
state judgment in a United States district court.'"
American Reliable Insurance v. Stillwell, 336 F.3d
311, 316 (4th Cir. 2003) quoting Johnson v. De
Grandy, 512 U.S. 997, 1005-06 (1994). The
Rooker-Feldman doctrine is jurisdictional and, as
such, this court is free to raise it sua sponte.
See Jordahl v. Democratic Party of Va., 122 F.3d
192, 197 n.5 (4th Cir.1997).
the case shall be dismissed by separate order which follows.
District of Columbia Court of
Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 482, (1983);
Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413, ...